Be Kind

This week has been a really tough week for me. I am not sure if it is the stress from having to stay home, hormones, or a combination of those things. It has just been a very tough week. To top it off I had to step into an unfortunate situation this week involving my daughter in which I had to defend her. It was definitely not what I needed on top of a week that was already turning out to be a stressful one for me. I know I should never complain. It most definitely could be much worse. My family is healthy and safe, and that I am thankful for. Especially with everything going on from this terrible virus that is invading our lives. As we all know though, even when we are thankful for good things, sometimes the sadness can still creep in.

As I mentioned in another blog, I do suffer from anxiety. It is something I have dealt with my whole life. The area I suffer the most is social anxiety. It is so difficult for me to be in crowds, or in groups of people, both big and small. I know, it doesn’t make since why then the quarantine would be adding to my stress, because it takes me away from all that. The stress comes from just not being able to live our lives in the “normal” way we are accustomed to. I am stressed for my kids and the activities, memories, and friends they are missing. I am stressed for my husband and the extra burden he is having to carry financially. I am stressed that someone in my family will become ill. Basically, I just stress over everything, and do enough worrying for everyone. It is just my nature.

Even though this week has been hard, and the stress has seemed to be an extra burden for me this week, I can still say I have grown a lot over the past few days. That growth has come because I was reminded of the importance of being KIND to everyone. I will say this week, kindness was something that was a challenge for me. No I am not a mean hateful person, but the burdens that were on my heart was making it difficult to reach for that kindness. The stress I was feeling made me just want to lay around and be sad. I had no energy, and not much motivation to do anything. And then I also had the unfortunate incident with my daughter. I can honestly say when this happened, kindness was not something that came to my mind. They hurt my daughter, so my first reaction was that I wanted to hurt them in return. Fortunately , I took some time to pray and reflect before I took any action. As a Christian, I wanted God to guide me in how to handle the situation. Somehow, I was able let the stress from the week go, and I dealt with the situation with kindness and respect. Was this difficult to do? Yes. Especially because my daughter was hurting. Did I receive kindness back? Unfortunately no. I actually received rudeness and negativity in return. And guess what? I am ok with that. After the anxiety I was feeling from the week, you would think that I would not be. However, I had to get back in touch with reality and realize who I really was, and show others the same thing. I never want to be seen as an ugly, rude person. I want to be seen as someone who shines light, love, and kindness no matter what the circumstances. Yes, this week was tough for me and no matter how many times I tried to just give my worries to God, a new one would come in. So the burdens felt heavy. But I did not want those burdens to make me into something that I was not.

We should always be mindful that no matter what is going on in our lives, there is never an excuse to be unkind to anyone else. The stress we are feeling at home, work, or anything else should never carry into how we choose to treat others. Kindness and respect should always be our top priority. Yes, even when someone hurts us. I know, as I said this is so difficult to do. I was faced with that this week. You never know, though, what others are dealing with also. They may be having a bad day or bad week, and their behavior is reflecting that. Your words to them may be the only thing they hear that day. Do you want to add to someone’s burdens or ease them? I want to be someone’s light for the day, even if they do not want to see it. Even if they have nothing kind to say to me, I want to show them my heart is not only full of love and kindness, but a reflection of grace and kindness. Isn’t that what God commands us to do? To love, respect, forgive, and treat others like we would like to be treated?

Take the time to always treat people with kindness, and yes there will be times you do not get it in return. Just remember the light you shine today, will be remembered tomorrow. So be the reason someone smiles today because you never know what someone is going through. Let’s all make the world a kinder place for all of us.

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32.

I hope each of you are covered in many blessings and an abundance of kindness today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Strong Faith

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25.

As a Christian there are many people that I have admired and been inspired by throughout my journey. I have had the privilege of being witness to several woman who have been shining examples of not only Christians, but mothers, wives, leaders, entrepreneurs, and friends. There are strong women everywhere. Society over the course of the past several years has also began, I feel, to celebrate and empower women more than they have ever done in the past. As a mother of four daughters, it is important to me that they become strong women, and by having good examples of that it will definitely help guide them along the way.

Of all the strong women I have had the privilege to know one of the ones I admire the most is my husband’s grandmother, Billie. I remember when I was a teenager and first began to date my husband she welcomed me into the family instantly. It was like she had known me forever. I knew from the first moment I met her that there was something very special about her. There really are no words to describe what it is. Her spirit was just magnetic. You can’t help but to be drawn to her. Billie has always been one of those ladies who was always doing for others, but rarely doing for herself. I remember anytime we would call and tell her we were craving some of her delicious gravy and biscuits, she would stop what she was doing and make it for you. Once Ryan and I were married and had children she was always cooking for us, buying gifts for the girls, and volunteering to babysit. Oh, she always loved to babysit the girls, they had the best time together.

Billie has always just enjoyed life and she really doesn’t let much bring her down. She always finds a way to have joy in her heart. That joy comes from the relationship she has with God. Since I have know her, God has always been at the center of her life. Nothing ever came before that. To her, that is where all the blessings flow. Her faith has all been something I have so admired. Yes, I have faith, but hers is not easily shaken. For someone who has been through everything that she has, and still have unwavering faith, now that is something. Billie, in her lifetime, has lived through wars, depression, deaths of many loved ones ( including her husband), a stroke, the current pandemic , and many other trials. Yet, with all these, her faith has always remained strong. The stroke Billie had a few years ago left her confined to a wheelchair. She was always so active and overall healthy. I remember her always playing on the floor with my girls, singing, dancing, playing jokes on people(she loves to do that), she could do anything we could. But now she is unable to move her legs, and has weakness in her arms as well. Despite all this, she has the best attitude. She not one time has ever complained or asked why me? Her faith remains strong. Through it all, and even what is happening in the world now, she just smiles and says “Well, we are just going to pray about it.” And that is exactly what she does.

The whole Johns crew

I can tell you this I will spend the rest of my life to strive to be more like Billie. To always keep God as the center of my life, to always keep joy in my heart, to laugh and love with abundance, and to have such a strong faith that nothing will hold me down. The world would be a much better place if we could all be even half of the person she is. I pray that each and every person that reads this will develop a strong faith that never waivers no matter what storms you are facing. I am so blessed that I have someone like Billie in my life, and I pray that you do too.

God is within her she will not fall. Psalm 46:5

I pray for health and safety for all of you today and that each of you are covering with many blessings.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Be Still

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10.

I don’t know about everyone else but I am one of these people that wants an answer to EVERYTHING!! If I don’t know the answer myself then I go searching for it. I ask others, I read books, I search on the internet or social media or reach for anything that will help me find the answer I am looking for. I honestly cannot stand to not have the answer for everything. It is so hard for me to not have an explanation for some things. It really just stresses me out!!! I also do not just want the answer for me, but I also want to find out all the answers for my kids, my husband, and all my loved ones. I am not sure why this is? Maybe it is the just the need to fix everything for everyone, or just make sure everything is ok. I am a creature of habit, so to go off the routine or adding something that makes things a little different can also be scary to me. That is why I am always trying to look for the answer, trying to solve the issue, and making sure everything is running as normal. I just have the need for everything to be ok for everyone, including myself.

We all know the past few weeks, our world has not been ok. We are all facing a giant with this virus, that really, most of us did not see coming. Sure, we all watched the news and saw what was happening in China and Italy. However, most of us never thought we would be dealing with the same thing and in the level that we are dealing with it. I believe it was a shock to all our systems. The whole world is facing the fact that everything is not ok. We are all facing what we call a new type of normal in our lives right not. Staying at home, the social distancing, stores and jobs coming to a halt, home-schooling our kids, all of these things have now become our new daily lives.

As I said, the last few weeks have been difficult for me because I want everything to be ok or “normal”. I have found myself watching the news on TV to see what the experts or saying, or digging into articles, etc. to try and find the answer to how I can make things better or feel like everything is ok again. Why did all this happen? Why are so many getting sick? How do we help? How do we stop this from happening again. The what, why, when, and who has been deep in my thoughts. I, again, just have to figure it all out.

Then the other day, my husband made a statement that made me think I may have found the answer I was searching for. He said maybe this is one of the ways God is showing all of us that is just time to BE STILL!! No, I am not saying this is answer for the virus or everything that is happening. However, I am saying that God can make beautiful things out of ugly ones. He can use this time to bring families closer, to make people start opening their eyes on what really is important in their lives, and to deeper the connection with him. Maybe this is the world’s wake-up call to open our eyes about where our hearts are, and shift our focusing from a selfish way of life to one of love, kindness, giving, and acceptance. To make us not only love our families better, but to love EVERYONE. It is our responsibility, as Christians, to make the world a better place.

God is giving you the time now to BE STILL. He is giving you that time to spend time with your family and make your bonds stronger. He is giving you the time to reach out to others and help during this crucial time. He is giving you the time away from your hectic schedules to grab that bible you have not picked up and read and know him better. He is saying Be Still and know that I am God. Praise him, thank him, for giving the precious gift of time to be able to know him better. What a gift it is to sit in silence, without the busy noise around, and hear him talk to you. Yes, the world is scary right now, and we have so many uncertainities but we can all use this extra time that we have to take the opportunity to strengthen our bonds with God, family, and friends and cherish the time to just BE STILL.

I pray despite it all, that each of you are covered in many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer

Do Not Fear

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

This past week has been an uncertain, and I must say a very scary time for our country, and our world. The COVID-19 virus has taken over life as we know it. Just in the past week we all have had our lives turned upside down and we are having to learn to adjust to a new normal. A new normal of the now well know topic of “social distancing”, along with homeschooling, working from home, stockpiling supplies and groceries, and the confinement of staying at home due to the closure of restaurants and stores. This new normal is difficult for people who live in a country where we have always had the freedom to do what we please, and live our lives with such comfort and ease that we have had rarely had to think about the basic necessity of survival. I would say 9/11 was the closest we have all gotten to really having our lives forever changed and the uncertainty and fear that has also come along with the virus we are facing today.

In just a blink of an eye, our world is completely different. Last week I went to a grocery store with well-stocked shelves, and passed on getting toilet paper because we had a few rolls already at home. This week the same grocery store had empty shelves and had me kicking myself I didn’t buy that toilet paper because there is now a shortage. Two weeks ago I bought my 18 year old her senior prom dress and watched her smile and laugh with excitement as she tried her dress on looking forward to her very last prom. Now, this week we are being told more than likely they will not be returning to school and that means no prom, no graduation, no more senior memories for her. My heart truly aches for all my children, but it really does for her as this was supposed to be such a special memorable time for her.

So what are we supposed to do when we are facing such scary and uncertain times? How do we ease our children’s fear and anxiety through this? How do we calm our own anxieties and worry? These are all really hard questions, and because everyone is unique and deals with things differently there may be ways one person handles a situation that works better for them. As a Christian, I am doing my best to handle the situation the only way I know how with God by my side.

Here are a few tips that I am encouraging not only myself to follow but my family as well:

  • PRAY. Pray for our world, our country, your community, your family, your friends. Talk to him. Tell him your worries and concerns. Pray that we soon can get back to what we know as normal. Pray for a cure. Pray for those who are already sick to be healed. Pray for a hedge of protection for your loved ones and others. Just give everything to him. Prayer is so powerful, and trust me it works!! I prayed to the Lord and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Psalm 3:14.
  • Don’t allow FEAR to rule your life. Trust me, I know this is easier said than done. It is difficult for me as well. However, we cannot live our lives in fear. We just can’t. We must stay strong, and lay all of our worries at God’s feet. We must make sure our kids see that we are strong and not living in a state of panic or fear. It is important for their mental well-being that we do this. Kids are so vulnerable, and so it is important for us to create an atmosphere of peace for them. Stay strong and don’t let the fear take over, live your life!! Tell everyone who is discouraged, Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue. Isaiah 35:4.
  • Focus on the GOOD. I always try to find blessings out of every situation I am put in. Even the messy ones. Yes, the world is a scary and messy place right now. However, let’s try and find some good things to pull out of this. The first thing I can think of is that I get to spend more time with my family. Now that we are all home, we can spend more quality time together. Last night, we had a family game night and just chatted. It has been a long time since we have gotten to do that. So that was a huge blessing. Instead of focusing on the negativity and fear, reset your mind and always search for the good and the hope. An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25.
  • Know God is in CONTROL. You may be scared, your children may be scared and worried, but God is with you. Lean on him for your strength to get through this. Allow him to be your rock. When you feel the anxiety taking over your mind, pray and know that God is in control of this situation and he will never leave your side. Let him guide you to learn how to deal with the new normal we are all facing, let him show you that through him, you are strong. Peace is what I leave with you, it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid. John 14:27.

Just know I will be praying for everyone during this time, and I pray that very soon this uncertain time will be over. I know you are all scared, but I also pray that each of you are covered with many blessings today.

Love and hugs,

Jennifer